President's Day: George Washington Would Kick Dick Cheney's Saggy Ass:
When George Washington sent Benedict Arnold and his troops to invade Quebec in 1775, he knew that he couldn't humiliate and torture any Canadians or their Indian allies. It'd really suck to lose a chance for Canada to join in the war on British terror. See, Revolutionary America was bugging out because the British had passed the Quebec Act, which granted French Catholics way more rights than they had previously had and also extended the border of Quebec into Ohio and the Mississippi River. It was a pretty good tactic, and it appeased the French in Quebec. Of course, hatred of the French, fear of Catholics, and greed over the loss of some profitable Indian territory made colonial Americans lose their shit. Washington decided to bring the fight to Quebec, but he wanted to lay the groundwork for what he hoped would be Canada rising up to fuck up the British. So he instructed Arnold and his troops not to be total dicks:
"I charge you, therefore, and the Officers and Soldiers, under your Command, as you value your own Safety and Honour and the Favour and Esteem of your Country, that you consider yourselves, as marching, not through an Enemy's Country; but that of our Friends and Brethren, for such the Inhabitants of Canada, and the Indian Nations have approved themselves in this unhappy Contest between Great Britain and America. That you check by every Motive of Duty and Fear of Punishment, every Attempt to plunder or insult any of the Inhabitants of Canada. Should any American Soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian, in his Person or Property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary Punishment as the Enormity of the Crime may require."
Washington also wanted to make sure that this didn't become a war against Catholicism, even if there were many, many others afraid of the papists infiltrating the colonies: "I also give it in Charge to you to avoid all Disrespect to or Contempt of the Religion of the Country and its Ceremonies. Prudence, Policy, and a true Christian Spirit, will lead us to look with Compassion upon their Errors without insulting them. While we are contending for our own Liberty, we should be very cautious of violating the Rights of Conscience in others."
That last line there is why George Washington would kick Dick Cheney's ass. Yesterday, on ABC's This Week, Cheney offered simple-minded justification for torturing suspects. Essentially, it comes down to "our lives matter; theirs don't. Our rights matter; theirs don't." Washington, who had no problem killing British on the field of battle, would have been appalled hearing the Vice President of the United States, the nation he risked everything for and gave everything to, say, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding."
Washington knew that the result of abuse would inevitably be more, not less, blood spilled. It's why he told Arnold, "Upon the whole, Sir, I beg you to inculcate upon the Officers and Soldiers, the Necessity of preserving the strictest Order during their March through Canada; to represent to them the Shame, Disgrace and Ruin to themselves and Country, if they should by their Conduct, turn the Hearts of our Brethren in Canada against us."
We know what Benedict Arnold eventually did. We know what Dick Cheney has done.